US Backing Egypt-Israel Peace?

Will the Obama Administration feel any commitment towards pushing a new Egyptian government to maintain the peace treaty with Israel?

Chana Ya'ar , | updated: 3:59 PM

Overlooking Cairo
Overlooking Cairo
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The United States recognizes that the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty has been "of tremendous value to the United States and to the region" -- but will it hold, and will America feel any commitment towards pushing for its enforcement? A briefing at the State Department on Thursday left troubling questions on the issue.

Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, warned Wednesday in an address to the Knesset that it was possible that the upheaval in Egypt could lead to the formation of a new Gaza-like gateway to Iran.

Journalists at a State Department briefing in Washington Thursday asked spokesman P.J. Crowley if the U.S. shared Israel's concern on the matter -- but hit a brick wall.

"We would hope that the next government of Egypt will play a constructive role in the peace process and will recognize the importance of having a peaceful relationship with Israel," he responded dryly.

In contrast to the urgency with which Crowley repeatedly stressed that "this transition, this process for fundamental change needs to begin now," the spokesman had little to say about the threat to the stability of the region, and Israel's security.

"We are doing an aggressive, active outreach to a broad range of figures," he told the reporters. "We have always done that. We're going to continue to do that. We've been very active in the last few days... We have not had contact with the Muslim Brotherhood," he said, but added, "we will meet with figures. If we meet with anyone along those lines, we'll let you know."

A question posed to the spokesman about America's commitment to backing Israel's security in discussions with a new Egyptian government elicited a noncommittal response that reflected the Obama administration's ambivalence on the issue.

"Well, obviously, when a new government is formed, it will have to review its policies with regard -- its foreign policy, which would include its policy with its immediate neighbor, Israel," Crowley began.

"It has been of tremendous value to the United States, to the region, that Egypt made peace with Israel 30 years ago -- or more than 30 years ago. It's been of enormous value that Jordan has made peace with Israel.
"We want to see that same kind of relationship with other states in the region," he added coyly.

"Egypt has been a leader in the peace process. It has been an anchor in the peace process. We would value and welcome Egypt continuing to play that role. We hope that the new government will follow that policy."

However, Crowley would not say whether the U.S. would make its relations with Egypt contingent upon a commitment to abide by the treaty it signed with Israel three decades ago.

"There is a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt," he reiterated. "It is of tremendous value to both of those countries and to the region. And we would hope that that would continue to be respected, just as it has been for more than three decades."